Movie Making Manual/Cinematography/Cameras and Formats/XL H1

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The Canon XL H1 Records to HDV, the high-defition version of the popular DV codec used in many cameras, including the H1's predecessors the Canon XL 1s and XL 2. HDV is a very well engineered codec and allows for optimal HD compression to tape. Although high quality, the HDV compression codec is in fact compressing the video and disregarding some of the pixels that the XL H1's CCDs are picking up. However, the XLH1 does have an exciting option that none of the other prosumer HD cameras have: a pre-compression HD SDI output. This allows for the exact same signal that is being sent to the HDV codec for compression to be outputted to an HD SDI device through a BNC cable on the side of the camera. Though this feature is designed for use in studio environments where the HD SDI signal can be sent to a video deck such as a DVCproHD or HDCAM deck for full-resolution, uncompressed recording it can also be sent to a computer via an HD SDI video card such as those offered by AJA and Blackmagic and then recorded completely digitally onto a hard drive for editing or higher quality compression.

Model number XL H1
Manufacturer Canon
Intro date 2005
Category HDV Camcorder
Price $7-10k
Format(s) HDV, miniDV
Mediums HDV/DV tape
Sensor resolution 1440x1080 ?
non-square pixels
Aspect ratio 16:9
Sensor tech CCD
Sensor manufacturer Undisclosed
# sensors 3
Sensor size 1/3" = 8.4mm
Recording res & fps 1440x1080(HDV)
Shutter mechanism
Shutter speeds
Luma sampling freq.
Chroma subsampling 4:2:0(HDV)
4:2:2(HD SDI)
Colour model YUV
Colour depth 8bit(HDV)
10bit(HD SDI)
Low light performance
Available sensitivities 60i-1/60 = 7 lux, 30F-1/30 = 4 lux, 24F-1/48 = 6 lux
Lens interchangable 1/3" XL
In-built filters ND 1/6 & 1/32 internal, 72mm dia
Adjustable gamma
Viewfinder color, B&W switchable
LCD size 2.4" combo LCD & Viewfinder
Dynamic Range
Signal to Noise Ratio
Video outputs HD-SDI (BNC), Component(RCA), S-video, Composite (BNC), Firewire (4-pin)
Video inputs Component(RCA), S-video, Composite (BNC), Firewire (4-pin)
Audio inputs XLR x2, 3.5mm stereo, RCA x2
Audio Compression PCM Linear, MPEG1 Audio Layer II
# audio channels 2,4
audio sample rate PCM:48kHz-16bit, 32kHz-12bit MPEG: 48kHz-384kbs
audio quantisation {{{audio quant}}}
Digital IO HD SDI out only, Firewire (4-pin)
Weight Body:5.4 lbs (2.4 kg), Total:8.3 lbs (3.7 kg)

In a studio the HD SDI output and Genlock input would be highly useful. However, for movie making and general recording the HDV tape option is very high quality and much more compact that working with a large video deck or computer system in the field.

History of the camera


This camera is fourth in the line of XL series cameras from Canon, featuring the body style and many features and technologies of the XL 1, XL 1s, and XL 2 cameras.

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